Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 62
Chapter 62: Supporter of the Circle
These are not their true feelings
They are sounding out
What kind of position to hold
Point Allocation (Fierce Argument)
Darkness hung in the sky of Avalon during the day.
The individuals sitting there were the representatives of different forces which could be described as anti-P.A. Oda. As they took a quick break, they adjusted their sign frames and the like for the meeting.
Masazumi sat among them yet had a thought as she looked around.
…They want to know if we will be their ally or their enemy in their opposition of P.A. Oda, do they?
That answer carried an implied promise and it would determine whether they could benefit from each other, so Masazumi first asked a classmate a question.
Vice President: “Neshinbara, do you have anything to tell me about the representatives here?”
Novice: “You go first since you know more about politics than me.”
“Judge,” she sent before glancing over at Asama.
Vice President: “I’m a slow typer, so can Tsukinowa help me?”
Asama: “It requires an additional feature, but that doesn’t matter to you since Heidi and Shirojiro will be paying, right? I’ll add the ability to form text using the movement of your tongue and throat, okay? …There.”
This sure is a convenient age we live in, thought Masazumi as she formed the words in her mouth.
Vice President: “Ih ish ood?”
Wise Sister: “Oh, dear. She’s turned into a moron! Excellent!!”
Asama: “Oops, I’ll up the conversion interference rate. There you go.”
Fine, then, she thought before repeating herself: Is this good?
Vice President: “Is this manner of speech up to thy standards?”
Asama: “Oops, that’s too much interference. I’ll lower it a bit.”
This sure is an inconvenient age we live in, she thought while glaring at Asama, but Hanami did a dance to distract her.
“Anyway,” said Masazumi under her breath. This should be about right.”
Vice President: “I’ll point out what the meeting participants want, my predictions of what they will do, and the problems they bring.”
●Anne of Austria (Hexagone Française)
- Wants stability for Hexagone Française and Louis Exiv’s rule.
- Sees Mouri’s submission to Hashiba and defeat at the Battle of Sekigahara as a problem.
●Luther Tomoe Gozen (M.H.R.R. Protestants)
- Wants to oppose the M.H.R.R. Catholics?
●Suleiman (Mlasi Forces?)
- Revenge against P.A. Oda?
●Matsunaga Hisahide (P.A. Oda)
Mal-Ga: “Why they’re here is a mystery for most of them, isn’t it? Well, I guess that’s why you have to ask.”
Wise Sister: “Do you win by revealing your answer before them or after them? Which is it?”
Novice: “That’s a difficult question. And I would add these to your list.”
●Anne of Austria (Hexagone Française)
- The future of Hexagone Française will be greatly affected by the result of the battle between K.P.A. Italia and M.H.R.R.
●Luther Tomoe Gozen (M.H.R.R. Protestants)
- Even if they overcome the Catholics, Hashiba remains, so they cannot escape P.A. Oda’s rule.
●Suleiman (Mlasi Forces?)
- His connections with the Mlasi majority faction and Buddhism are important.
●Matsunaga Hisahide (P.A. Oda)
- He’s a trickster, so I want to guide him into holding an interest in us.
Mal-Ga: “That’s quite the vague assistance there. This is worse than when I say ‘roar around the curves and whoosh on through’ to underclassmen asking for drawing lessons.”
Novice: “How can you say I’m worse than that!?”
Tonbokiri: “I will ignore that, but what is the Mlasi ‘majority faction’?”
Wise Sister: “Judge. The majority faction spins around and around while the minority faction loves the end of the world.”
Bell: “Eh? Eh?”
That was actually kind of accurate sighed Masazumi.
Vice President: “Um, a long time ago, the bloodline of the Mlasi founder was lost during some internal conflict. The majority faction pragmatically tries to protect the teachings of the founder without fighting over who their leader is. The minority faction puts much more focus on bloodline and says a descendent of the founder will appear and save them all at the end of the world.”
Novice: “Judge. Unlike the Tsirhc Catholics, Mlasi lacks an authority like an organized church to manage them and enforce the rules. They still have the teachings of their religion, but they can’t definitively say which side is heretical. But anyway, the majority faction has a fair bit of mysticism to it and they have a lot of spells. Aoi Sister-kun was talking the Sufi spinning used to become one with god.”
It’s nice having people to help explain things, thought Masazumi.
…Oh, I get it.
She had classmates she could rely on, so she could do just that when she did not know something.
Vice President: “Neshinbara, what is the common point between all of these people?”
Novice: “Exactly what they told you: they see P.A. Oda as an enemy.”
Then, she thought. I need to say this if I want them as allies.
“Now, I would like to say one thing.”
She gently raised her right hand to signal the meeting was beginning again and she directed her words toward the others who were already waiting silently for her.
“To form a consensus, I would like to explain Musashi’s current situation.”
The subject of the meeting was what Musashi intended to do about P.A. Oda, but there was something she had to do before getting to that answer.
…I need to hold them back and see what happens to make sure I don’t carelessly promise anything.
And so she spoke.
“Early this morning, Musashi was attacked by scouts from P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics and we fought them off with help from the M.H.R.R. Protestants.”
She breathed in and slowly spoke to the surrounding people.
“Due to that, Musashi currently holds a hostile stance toward P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics.”
“Hmm,” muttered Suleiman with a hand on his chin.
…This is a very Far Eastern way of playing with her words. She is treating P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics as one and the same.
P.A. Oda was a massive nation encroaching on Europe and other nations, but the M.H.R.R. Catholics were only a single force within M.H.R.R. The nations of Europe viewed the M.H.R.R. Catholics as a P.A. Oda puppet.
For that reason, Suleiman had assumed the meeting would focus only on what they would do about P.A. Oda.
…But Musashi’s vice president plans to drag M.H.R.R. into the spotlight too.
M.H.R.R. possessed a Logismoi Óplo, so Musashi may not have been able to ignore them.
Assuming they would be dealing with both the M.H.R.R. Catholics and P.A. Oda was a pain, but it held great meaning for the M.H.R.R. Protestants and Hexagone Française who were faced with the threat of Hashiba and the Catholics.
I wonder, thought Suleiman as everyone gently focused on him.
…Using self-defense in her negotiation is also a very Far Eastern thing to do.
After all, Musashi’s vice president had said their hostile stance against the M.H.R.R. Catholics and P.A. Oda was due to the attack they received from scouts belonging to those two nations.
That put the source of the hostility on P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R.
It also implied Musashi had not originally harbored any hostility toward them.
This was part of her negotiation.
She was saying they could reconcile with P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics if those here tried to force any unreasonable demands on Musashi.
How very Far Eastern, thought Suleiman. She is cautious and she tries not to let go of any possibility, but she never forgets about the self-defense this all rests on. And it is even more Far Eastern to prioritize their own defense without maintaining a position that they are in the right.
But, he thought.
…Should I test her? Not that it’s a very nice thing to do.
He wanted to assess her skill, so he decided to give a simple test.
“Listen, Musashi Vice President. Are you saying you did not take up this hostility because you wanted to? Then are you also saying it is possible you could reconcile with P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics?”
“We will be forced to be wary of Musashi.”
When she heard what Suleiman said, Tomoe gave an impressed “Oh?” under her breath.
This man had been the Mlasi representative and the meeting spot froze over at his question.
But having a little tension is for the best, she thought while producing a Protestant lernen figur.
Lady AM: “Guericke, it looks like Mr. Suleiman is trying to earn the Protestants’ gratitude.”
Hemisphere Man: “Secretary, what do you mean by that?”
Lady AM: “I’m not telling.”
Guericke gave her a wide-eyed look, but she ignored him. Human, never stop thinking. Your predecessor must help these people who have yet to grow, so be prepared to be kicked into the chasm.
…Anyway, I see Suleiman is as haughty as ever.
After all, he had started out with “we”.
Who ever said we agreed with you? You are a heretic as far as we’re concerned.
But Suleiman was also working against the possibility of Musashi reconciling with not just P.A. Oda but the M.H.R.R. Catholics as well. The M.H.R.R. Protestants viewed both those groups as enemies, so they owed him one for that.
And there was a test in what he had said. He had asked Musashi if there was a possibility of them reconciling with P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R.
…Now, what answer will Musashi’s vice president give?
If she said they would not, everyone here would have her word and they would use that to control Musashi as much as possible.
But if she said they might do so, everyone here would grow wary of Musashi.
Both options placed a great burden on Musashi.
Lady AM: “There is of course a way out of this.”
Hemisphere Man: “What is that?”
Lady AM: “I’m not telling.”
Guericke gave her a wide-eyed look, but she could safely ignore it if she viewed it as nothing but a humorous reaction. Human, continue your pursuit of the performing arts. At any rate, there was a way for Musashi to escape those two options.
…This will determine whether or not Musashi’s vice president understands the meaning of what she wants.
The girl had tried to gain self-defense and opportunity, but she was now having her position tested.
What answer will she give? wondered Tomoe as she focused on Musashi’s vice president.
Masazumi calmed her breathing as several gazes turned her way. She had a single thought in her head.
…You’re giving me this right off the bat!?
This was a direct clash of intentions without time to lay any groundwork.
His words directly led to a demand and his question asked that she either confirm or deny.
Any answer she gave would be seen as a promise and follow her around in everything else she did. It would affect both Musashi and the Far East as a whole.
She did feel some pressure here and she realized just how ridiculous a group she was facing here.
Asama: “C-calm down, Masazumi! And listen! Don’t calm down by making a weird joke! If you do that, this entire space could fall apart!”
Vice President: “But none of the jokes I’ve ever made have been ‘weird’.”
Mal-Ga: “Oh, sorry. I think I misheard you and spilled my ink. Could you rephrase that?”
At any rate, she was definitely being tested.
Was there a possibility of Musashi reconciling with P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R.? Suleiman insisted she gave a yes or no answer, but the real problem was which answer he wanted to hear.
“In other words, you want to confirm our attitude concerning P.A. Oda?”
“Shaja,” said Suleiman. “Musashi has declared it will end the Apocalypse and has formed a bond with England, so it looks like you are trying to provoke the Testament Union. But just as Mikawa was originally an intermediary between the Testament Union and P.A. Oda, the historical Matsudaira clan was allied with the Oda clan.”
“It would be rather troublesome if you hid behind the history recreation, allied with or took a neutral stance toward P.A. Oda, and overlooked their invasion of Europe. Yes.”
I’m sure it would, thought Masazumi.
Matsudaira and P.A. Oda had not originally been enemies. From the perspective of the Testament Union members, the morning’s reconnaissance attack could be taken as a warning to Musashi against forming bonds with the Testament Union.
…That must be why Suleiman is asking me to choose between the two options.
Were they P.A. Oda’s enemy or their ally?
If she said they were their enemy, these other nations would use them. If she said they were their ally, these other nations would be wary of them. Was there a better answer?
Masazumi thought about what Suleiman had said and about the others here.
Then it came to her.
…There is one.
Masazumi realize there was an answer which was applicable specifically at this meeting.
She thought and formed the words in her heart, so…
Don’t get excited.
Don’t celebrate that you realized how to move this meeting along.
You don’t need to celebrate what you’ve realized. You need to check to see if you’re right.
“Are you listening?”
Masazumi breathed in and suppressed the joyous quivering of her throat.
She turned toward and directed her words toward Mazarin and Anne of Austria.
“If Musashi maintains a hostile stance toward P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics, what kind of support will your academy provide us?”
Matsunaga saw Suleiman lower his head to hide the smile on his lips, he saw the man’s shoulders shaking, and he heard suppressed laughter. Across from him, he saw one corner of Tomoe’s lips rise in a smile as she closed her eyes.
He nodded toward them and spoke.
“Looks like she’s turned you down.”
“Yes,” said Tomoe as Suleiman’s shoulders shook even harder. “Not bad.”
Exactly right, thought Matsunaga.
There was meaning behind the two options Suleiman had presented to Musashi.
…He wanted to know if Musashi really wants our help.
None of them had laid any groundwork, so when asked something, it was necessary to discuss what each nation stood to gain.
So if Musashi rejected everything related to itself, it would mean they did not share the same benefits as the other nations.
So Suleiman had tested Musashi to see if they did share those same benefits.
The best answer for Suleiman would have been for Musashi’s vice president to ask the others what Musashi should do.
That would change any possible demands from the other nations into mere suggestions and the other nations would have to hold each other in check for their own benefit.
But Musashi’s vice president had used Suleiman’s words against him. She had used the question to strike a deal with Hexagone Française.
Musashi was not revealing their intentions. She had only borrowed Suleiman’s words to question Hexagone Française. Suleiman could not say anything here. If he demanded she answer his question, she could simply promise to do so after hearing what the other nations had to say. And…
“Attacking us one at a time, are you?”
Suleiman realized what Matsunaga meant and finally nodded. He then spoke so only Matsunaga could hear.
“She isn’t used to meetings like this, so she would have a hard time dealing with us all at once. Instead, she must be building up her opinion by dealing with us each separately. But it is very interesting that she chose Hexagone Française first. After all…”
“Anne of Austria also likes to go on the attack.”
Masazumi viewed Anne as her greatest enemy. A lot was unknown about Suleiman and Hisahide, but she had no reason to call them a clear enemy.
With Anne, however, there was just such a reason.
“I am honored you chose me first, Musashi Vice President. So you want to know what support Hexagone Française will provide Musashi if you maintain your hostile stance toward P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics?”
Anne smiled in the signe cadre screen, but her smile was not directed at Masazumi. The girl was looking to Suleiman who sat cross-legged with a hand on his chin.
“Are you stupid? And I mean both the Musashi Vice President and Old Man Suleiman. I mean, it’s been predetermined that Ariadust will fight Hashiba and seize control of the Far East. Simply following the history recreation ensures that.”
Anne smiled again.
“Yes, and yet Musashi is trying to make a deal with us based on the possibility of ‘reconciling with P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics’. It’s too stupid to dignify with a real response. Listen. Ariadust is destined to oppose Hashiba eventually. That means both P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R.’s Hashiba. And besides, there’s no way Hexagone Française will support Musashi.”
“Hexagone Française is the only one here whose history guarantees we will oppose Musashi.”
…I had a feeling she was going to bring that up!
The way Masazumi saw it, there was an “absolute” difference between Hexagone Française and the other nations and academies.
The simple category of enemy also included Matsunaga of P.A. Oda, but the history recreation would have Matsunaga rebel against Nobunaga and blow himself up along with the Hiragumo tea kettle.
That happened relatively early, so when looking specifically at Matsunaga’s relationship with Matsudaira…
…He has no history recreation against Matsudaira.
But Hexagone Française and the Mouri clan were different. According to history, they would be enemies at the decisive Battle of Sekigahara. Matsudaira’s Eastern Army would win while Mouri would be subjugated and would fall into decline.
For both sides, their initial relationship began as enemies.
And that enemy spoke.
“Musashi does not need to involve itself in our world. After eradicating Hashiba and stopping the Apocalypse but before Mouri’s decline, you can return to being what you once were. We would be willing to support you in that endeavor.”
Masazumi listened to what could be interpreted as an absolute rejection, but…
Something seemed off to her.
Masazumi asked herself why this girl was refusing any kind of negotiation.
…If she refuses to negotiate, why would she be here in a place of negotiation?
The answer was simple.
…I was wrong, wasn’t I?
Anne had simply reacted to Masazumi’s proposal. She had rejected it because she could not accept those terms. To put it another way, she would not have refused if Masazumi had given her terms she could accept.
Masazumi had made a mistake.
Due to the lack of groundwork, she had failed to understand Anne’s situation and had thus made a mistake.
In that case, she thought. What did I get wrong?
She summed up what she had asked.
…I asked if Hexagone Française would be able to support Musashi if we opposed P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics.
As she repeated the proposal, she realized her mistake.
Dragon Dog: “Something just changed inside her.”
ANA: “Leave it to a former combat automaton to notice.”
Dragon Dog: “Testament. Musashi’s vice president was hesitant earlier, so her body’s axis was a bit unstable. I could only describe it as somewhat downturned. But now the tension has grown and she is facing us. …This could be dangerous.”
ANA: “Dangerous? What do you mean?”
Dragon Dog: “Testament. I have determined Musashi’s vice president has lowered her hips while raising her body for an attack.”
Dragon Dog: “Here it comes. She just started nodding.”
Masazumi got up from the grass, stared straight at her opponent, and opened her mouth.
“Anne of Austria, I seem to have caused a bit of a misunderstanding. Please allow me to make my suggestion again.”
This is such an amateur’s way of correcting herself, she thought. But there’s no helping that. I am an amateur.
She decided to be more careful in the future.
She now understood that she had stated her previous suggestion incorrectly.
How should she have stated it when speaking to Anne of Austria?
…It doesn’t hinge on our hostile stance toward P.A. Oda and the M.H.R.R. Catholics.
The correct condition was as follows:
“If Musashi maintains a friendly relationship with Louis Exiv and Mouri Terumoto…”
…And I don’t ask if their academy will support Musashi.
She should have said this instead:
“What suggestion will you give to Louis Exiv and Mouri Terumoto?”
The darkness of night began to fill the sky beyond a great floating shape.
The Hiragumo floated above Magdeburg where five individuals had gathered by the fire-lit front of a cathedral. Kimi sat on the stone steps with a sign frame open while Futayo, Naruze, Adele, and Yoshiyasu gathered around her.
Yoshiyasu tilted her head when she saw the writing on Kimi’s sign frame.
“Why is she basing this on individuals like Anne, Louis Exiv, and Mouri Terumoto instead of on Hexagone Française as a whole?”
She felt it was a sad question for a student council president to have to ask.
…But it should help me study diplomacy.
She had been with Musashi for less than a day, but she could not take that time lightly because, every so often, opportunities like this were mixed in with all the inhumane incidents and behavior. However, it was the eccentric sister of Musashi’s chancellor who answered.
“Heh heh. This Anne girl has built up her resolve. And make sure you understand. The second character in the Far Eastern word for ‘resolve’ attacks the heart radical with five mouths at once! Five!? That’s going well beyond a threesome!”
Yoshiyasu had no idea what the girl was talking about. The Weiss Hexen waved a hand, telling her not to worry about it, but that same girl had also drawn Yoshiyasu in her Magie Figur and said something about “Should I put her with Asama? No, I do that too often. I need to think of something else.” In other words, the Technohexen was no different from the eccentric sister.
At any rate, she needed to understand what was going on in this meeting, so she tried to remember all her knowledge about that sort of thing.
…Yoshiyori is always telling me-…
She stopped thinking there because she wanted to avoid having him lecture her even in her own mind.
However, she did remember feeling Anne’s resolve as the girl had pulled on her hand.
…What was that?
At that point, the vassal tilted her head.
“Um, Kimi-san? What would Hexagone Française’s previous provisional chancellor’s resolve be in this case?”
“Well.” The dancer turned toward Yoshiyasu with a bitter smile. “Listen. Anne’s resolve concerns her imminent absence.”
Yoshiyasu was unable to immediately react.
…Her imminent absence?
Her thoughts refused to continue any further partially because she was having trouble connecting an individual life to a negotiation between academies that supported entire nations. However, there was a bigger reason.
Had her sister had a similar resolve about her own death?
If she had been the same as Anne was now…
Everyone turned around when that word escaped her mouth.
She panicked at their questioning looks and felt embarrassed of what she had said.
But she shook her head and corrected her thoughts. She then asked a question while keeping in mind that this person was a lot like her sister.
“Anne is negotiating with her death approaching, so why is she opposing Musashi? And why is Musashi’s vice president resuming negotiations with her, Louis Exiv, and Mouri Terumoto instead of with Hexagone Française?”
“Well,” said the dancer. “Simply put, this girl had already retired. How is someone like that supposed to influence her nation or her academy?”
The vassal immediately replied.
“Usually as a regent or through a cloistered rule.”
“Judge,” replied the dancer before looking back up at Yoshiyasu. “It can’t go that far in Anne’s case, though. She went as far as to place herself in Magdeburg after retiring, so she was essentially saying she no longer has any value. But…”
“She was able to do all that because she left everything to her brother, Louis Exiv. She believes her brother can do something even if Hashiba invades Mouri. She believes he will protect his wife’s clan. That is why she grows hostile when someone treats her like Hexagone Française’s ruler. It means you don’t trust the brother she has placed such faith in.”
What does that mean? wondered Yoshiyasu.
She went on to frown and ask about the source of her confusion.
“I don’t understand. Why does she trust her brother so much? Is it because of the Testament descriptions?”
“Oh? You don’t know?”
The dancer stabbed sharply to the side with her question. Her tone was strong enough for Yoshiyasu to draw back a bit and the Weiss Hexen glared at her.
“I more or less know the answer, but you really support Anne, don’t you?”
“Heh heh. Yes, but the cuteness of a foolish brother is greatly influenced by whether he is an older or younger brother.”
The dancer smiled just a bit.
“You see, Anne does not simply trust her brother. She is bragging about her own abilities. If she couldn’t trust in the brother she supported for so long, she would be doubting what she herself had done. She is bragging that she has no worries and nothing but confidence in everything that will occur after her death. And it is all because of the nation she created and the brother she raised and supported so he could respond to any possible situation. …That is the kind of woman Anne of Austria is.”
A self-deprecating bitterness entered her smile.
“Unlike me, the situation must have required her to support him quite a lot. So at the very least, she will have no regrets once she is lost. She can brag about how well-made a brother she has. Otherwise she would not be able to trust this brother who chose another woman to be his wife.”
“Then…what is your vice president supposed to do?”
“You don’t know?” asked the dancer while speaking clearly. “Unlike me, she is like a fruit tree that protects its flowers and then withers away. Now, Masazumi, tell her you are here to water the flower she has supported and not her, the withered tree. That is what she wants from you. So…”
Kimi pulled Uzy from her cleavage and had the Mouse display a divine transmission spell keyboard.
“Masazumi, listen. A proper woman cannot mistake who she is dealing with.”
Masazumi glanced at the text Kimi sent her.
Wise Sister: “Are you listening!? Are you!? You’re dealing with a little sister character, so make sure you understand how madly in love with her big bro she is! Make sure of it!! And if you still don’t understand, grope Asama’s chest until you do!!”
She truly did not understand, but she was unsure what to do. Would groping a chest really help?
“Eh? Wh-why are you staring at me, Masazumi?”
“Oh, um… No reason…probably.”
The crazy person’s advice was about what she would expect, but she already understood one thing: Anne of Austria was her greatest enemy at this meeting.
…I should be able to share in what she has protected.
“I won’t ask for much, Anne of Austria. I just have one request for you,” said Masazumi. “Currently, Musashi and Hexagone Française have entered a ceasefire. I want to make that an official end of hostilities. Otherwise, we can never begin a friendly relationship with Louis Exiv and Mouri Terumoto.”
Anne did not say much, but…
…She finally agreed with something I said.
That word of caution came with a smile and her tone said she would not let this go as Masazumi wanted.
Masazumi understood why: she was an amateur. And as a beginner, she had chosen to negotiate with each nation individually.
…But even if I settle things with one nation, another can speak out about how that affects them.
What nation would not want an amicable relationship between Hexagone Française and Musashi?
“I can’t have you forgetting about M.H.R.R., Musashi Vice President and Anne of Austria.”
Tomoe crossed her arms and faced Masazumi.
…Here it comes.
After Suleiman and Anne, the third round is beginning, she thought.
And Tomoe’s words seemed to substantiate her thoughts.
“How about you speak a little with us…with M.H.R.R.?”
- AM is also pronounced “gozen” in Japanese.
- A kanji pun.
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